Managing and disposing of municipal solid waste is a common problem for all local authorities and municipal, urban and district (pradeshiya shabhas) councils in Sri Lanka.
The growth of urban populations and economies has resulted in a corresponding growth of solid waste that municipal governments are finding difficult to dispose. Finding suitable land for the disposal of solid waste is a problem for the majority of local authorities due to the scarcity of land, problems of land acquisition, high land cost and lack of public support.
Most of the urban local authorities are not in a position to allocate sufficient funds and do not have trained human resources and equipment to manage the volume of existing solid waste in their cities. Collection is often insufficient; in Sri Lanka the common practice is the open dumping of waste. This causes severe pollution to the soil, air and water sources locally as well as globally. The 3R concept (reduce, reuse, recycle) is missing in current practices.
The solution lies in improving waste collection services and treatment and in reducing the amount of waste that reaches the dumpsite. This can be achieved by treating wastes as a resource. Beyond recycling, the focus of any sustainable approach has to be on organic waste because it constitutes as much as 85 per cent of all municipal waste in Sri Lanka.